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New crop of characters has love for New York

Tim Gallo | Tuesday, October 16, 2007

R&B prodigies K-Ci and JoJo once sang, “All my life, I prayed for someone like you … and I pray that you feel the same way too.” These lyrics could not capture how I, and thousands of other men, feel about one special woman. I think that I may love New York.

For all the unlucky souls that have never met New York, I will explain why you must meet this goddess. New York, or Tiffany Pollard, was once a contestant on VH1’s “Flavor of Love.”

In the two seasons of the show, New York created drama and somehow fell in love with Flavor Flav, the old rapper whose affection a group of female contestants tried to win. But in the end of the second season, Flav left New York for some girl (Deelishis) who doesn’t even know how to spell her name.

Clearly, New York needed a man (or more attention) and VH1 needed ratings. So “I Love New York” was born. But New York could not find someone worthy of her and was left heartbroken again.

New York is back again for “I Love New York 2,” where she will have her heart broken by some undeserving, muscle-bound goon who calls himself 20 Pack.

This is inevitable, for a character like New York is not meant to find love. Yet to me she is perhaps the most fascinating character on one of television’s most fascinating shows.

In a very strange and twisted way, there is a little bit of New York in all of us. Everyone who watches New York on television has a specific idea of who he wants to see her choose. Most often, we will choose men who are either upstanding and boring or absolutely ridiculous.

On the show, New York’s mother Sister Patterson gives “advice” on who our muse should select as her man. Sister Patterson pushes New York to choose successful, handsome men – when she isn’t preaching or cackling. New York says she just wants “a real thug who drinks a lot.”

But it is clear that real thugs (like me) will never be able to give New York what she wants and needs. This is a situation we all encounter at some point in our lives. We all want what we cannot have. Everyone around us tells us what we should do, yet we want the opposite.

In this way, New York is real, or at least more real than anyone on “The Real World.”

In addition to this, “I Love New York” says something very important about our country. Racial, gender and religious stereotypes are the core of this program. New York portrays a woman who is desperate for the attention of men who see her as a sexual object. Sister Patterson is a Bible-thumping zealot who we are meant to laugh at.

There are thuggish, misogynistic black men in backwards hats and bumbling white men in suits. No one on this show avoids the stereotypes. We watch the characters and laugh.

In doing this, we also realize how ridiculous the stereotypes are, for no real person acts like the caricatures in this show. People of all races, genders and religions are far more complex than any of the characters in the show. By using characters that exist only as stereotypes, “I Love New York” makes us realize how absurd they are.

I may never bear witness to New York’s (surgically-enhanced) beauty. But I take comfort that underneath her makeup-coated, bikini-wearing exterior is something more.

Maybe I am crazy, but I see something more to her. She is someone I have never met, yet is like everyone I know. She surrounds herself with stereotypes to tear them down. To me, this makes her wonderful. I can only pray that she someday will feel the same way too.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Tim Gallo at tgallo@nd.edu